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Insurance options for self-employed people in Singapore

It’s definitely a new world that we are living in today. While we all remember the great stories from previous generations about being able to raise a family of four on a single income from a permanent full-time position with good pay, medical benefits, and pension plan, today the employment landscape seen by those entering the labor force is much different. Now we live in a world where the ‘gig economy’ and the ‘sharing economy’ have come into being. These phenomena have not just affected a small number of people in the world, but rather have come to represent an ever-increasing portion of global jobs.

These days many people end up working for themselves, not because they want to necessarily, but because there simply aren’t enough employers hiring for full time positions. Instead, they’re opting to hire ‘contractors’, ‘freelancers’, or people who otherwise do work for a company, but are technically self-employed. Even here in Singapore we can see a large number of people who are working for themselves. This can afford a certain amount of freedom and flexibility, but it also has plenty of drawbacks. Perhaps one of the biggest such drawback is not having access to the company-sponsored benefits that many employers provide. Here, Pacific Prime Singapore discusses the prospects of self-employed expats in the Lion City when it comes to covering the costs of their healthcare.

Individual health insurance blog

Singapore healthcare

People who are working self-employed in Singapore are most likely going to be Singapore natives or permanent residents that are legally allowed to freelance here. They likely know that they can go to any public hospital in the nation to receive medical care.

Whether you are self-employed or not, there are some facets of the Singapore healthcare system that all expats should know about. First and foremost, while Singaporean nationals get full access to the city-state’s public healthcare system, including the Medisave and MediShield programs, expats in Singapore without Permanent Resident (PR) status are not. This means that many expats in Singapore have no option for receiving healthcare locally other than to use the city’s private hospitals, clinics, and doctors offices.

This isn’t the worst news in the world. Private hospitals generally provide a very high level of care – even higher than their public counterparts in many cases – but being driven to the private sector can still be a problem for some people. This is because the medical care received in private hospitals in Singapore can be quite pricey, and there are no government subsidies that will help defer costs for many expats here. For this reason, it is prudent for Singapore expats to secure private health insurance to address potential medical costs.

Self-employment in Singapore

According to an article from Gallup, three out of every ten workers worldwide was considered self-employed as of 2014. What’s more, Southeast Asia and East Asia were the regions identified as having the largest proportions of self-employed people as both a percentage of their populations, and of their workforces. It also stands to reason that this figure will have grown over the past 4 years. Who are the self-employed workers of Singapore, though?

As it happens, the Ministry of Manpower has stated the 30% of self-employed people in Singapore are either sports coaches, or taxi or private-hire drivers. Beyond these, the gig economy jobs that self-employed people tend to get for themselves are as caregivers, delivery people, hospitality workers, various labor services, and all sorts of different freelance jobs.

Now, people cannot just come to Singapore and legally start working for themselves. Expats without a Work Permit, S-Pass, or Employment Pass will not be legally allowed to work at all. Generally, this means that a local company needs to sponsor a worker before they can work here. However, there are avenues available to get around this which largely involve incorporating or setting up a local company. Arrangements can also potentially be made for spouses of legal workers in Singapore if they freelance for a local company that is willing to help them obtain a Letter of Consent.

Differences in health insurance for self-employed people

Many people that work in Singapore, especially expats, will have their medical insurance provided by their employer. So, without a proper employer, self-employed people are going to have to work out their insurance on their own. How will it differ from employer-provided insurance, though?

Well, one advantage of being insured with group health insurance is that oftentimes pre-existing conditions will be covered. Therefore, when obtaining individual health insurance, any existing medical conditions you have will likely be excluded from plan benefits.

On the other hand, getting lumped in with a group health insurance plan can often limit your choice when it comes to particular benefits. Some employers consciously leave out insurance benefits like coverage for maternity, dental, or vision care in an effort to save money on their group plan. When you select an individual insurance plan, though, you can be specific about the coverages and benefit levels you need, and ensure that your plan has it all.

Another aspect to consider when working for yourself is that you will not be covered by workmen’s compensation insurance that employers in Singapore normally possess. This means that, should you be unable to work for an lengthy period of time for any reason, you will have no way to supplement your income, which could lead to some very troubling situations. For this reason, it would be a good idea to secure income protection or Business Interruption Insurance to protect you from a loss of income. This type of insurance will kick in when you are unable to work, and can be a real lifesaver in such a situation.

Beyond basic life insurance, it may also be a good idea to secure Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance, which can provide you with a large lump sum payment in the event that you lose a limb, or otherwise become permanently disabled. This type of insurance will also provide funds to beneficiaries of your choice in the event of your passing.

Any questions?

If you are a self-employed expat living in Singapore, after reading the information above, it would stand to reason that you may have some questions about obtaining health insurance coverage here. As well, you may want to start looking for a health insurance plan on the local market that will give you the benefits you need at a price you can afford. Where can you begin when trying to find all of this, though?

Fear not! Pacific Prime Singapore is here to help. Our knowledgeable insurance advisers are more than happy to answer any questions you have about the Singapore healthcare system or health insurance in general. As well, they can present you with a comparison of top plans available from Singapore’s best insurance providers, and give you a free price quote. Contact us today!

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Jess

Content Strategist at Pacific Prime Singapore
Jessica Lindeman is a Content Strategist at Pacific Prime. She comes to work every day living and breathing the motto of "simplifying insurance", and injects her unbridled enthusiasm for health and insurance related topics into every article and piece of content she creates for Pacific Prime.

When she's not typing away on her keyboard, she's reading poetry, fueling her insatiable wanderlust, getting her coffee fix, and perpetually browsing animal Instagram accounts.